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Mafia Presence Felt on Facebook

Young Mafiosos Giving The Game Away On Social Media

The Telegraph revealed yesterday how younger members of the mafia are putting the Sicilian mob’s infamous secrecy at risk, with a series of flashy photographs and incriminating posts on Facebook.

Italian detectives are scouring social media for unintentional tip offs and details that might help them arrest this new generation of Facebook-friendly mobsters. The traditional codes of Cosa Nostra discretion have been thrown out the window in favour of stylish yacht club shots and deeply impeaching conversations.

Sicilian police had thought that they had finally succeeded in a crackdown on mafia activities, but over recent months the criminal syndicate have been reclaiming the streets of Palermo – and bragging about it on Facebook.

In years gone by, mafia members lived frugally in farmhouses eating bread, cheese and homegrown vegetables, communicating only by encoded hand written 'pizzini' notes; however this new generation of modern mafia seem to favour boastful posts about members’ wealth, power and burgeoning presence. It is assumed that the unabashed online postings are an attempt to spread fear among the Mafia’s host communities and emphasise a visible presence.

One particular Palermo mobster, Domenico Palazzotto, 28, has created a Facebook page under a false name, posting photos of himself drinking champagne on motorboats, dining on fine lobster and cruising in a limousine – flashy lifestyle results of the extortion rackets that he allegedly helps to run as the rising boss in the Arenella neighbourhood of Palermo.

The group was unlikely to set up a LinkedIn profile, but the young Mafioso seems happy to talk with potential recruits on Facebook. Palazzotto is seen swapping messages with an aspiring mobster who asks ‘Do I need to send a CV?’, to which Palazzotto replies ‘Yes, brother. We need to consider your criminal record. We do not take on people with clean records’.

Investigators have been scouring social media to match up the pseudonym accounts with known gang members; Salvatore D'Alessandro, a rising mob henchman loyal to Mr Palazzotto, also posted on Facebook under a pseudonym, uploading photos of dinners and boat rides with his boss and described his ambition to move up the organisation's ranks.

Sicilian investigators and magistrates refuse to be named, but they told The Telegraph about this ‘new generation of Mafiosi in Palermo’ who are using Facebook, texts and WhatsApp to show that they are going to the best discos, beaches and restaurants in an attempt to earn respect and spread fear. However, the obvious problem with social media and geo-location apps is that you are instantly traceable, and police are presumably hoping this will aid them in arrests.

In June, Sicilian police rounded up 95 mobsters (of which Mr Palazzotto was one) which resulted in a temporary stop to vote rigging, extortion and drug trafficking operations. However, the recent increase in online activity suggests otherwise, and investigators warn that a key figure in the recent mafia rebirth is Mr Palazzotto’s cousin Gregorio Palazzotto, 37, who is issuing orders from jail.

Alongside this Facebook bragging, it seems that the criminal gang is consolidating their presence on the streets too, reinstating their notorious links to the Catholic Church as suspicious activities played out in Palermo last week.

During a religious procession through the city, volunteers carrying a statue of Madonna briefly set it down outside a funeral parlour used to host mob summits owned by the D’Ambrogion family, head of which is a Mafia boss currently serving jail time, in what some are viewing as a subtle sign of respect.

The Telegraph recalls a similar incident of a suspicious pause in a Calabrian procession last month near the home of jailed boss Peppe Mazzagatti, which prompted outrage. Organisers of the Palermo procession deny that the statue bearers were taking orders from mobsters, claiming that the statue had stopped dozens of times to give the volunteers a rest and avoid low hanging electrical cables.

Police are unlikely to find clues as to these kind of suspicious and surreptitious activities, but if the brash and flash younger members of the mob continue to feel the need to post and brag about their luxury lifestyle, investigators would do well to keep an eye on social media networks for inevitable slip ups.

Katie Rowley

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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Mafia Presence Felt on Facebook Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 05, 2014 Rating: 5
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